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Common Agriculture and Food Policy for Radical Ecological Change

Article of URGENCI

URGENCI, the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)1 network and its national members from 12 European countries held an advocacy capacity building session in Brussels. This training session took place on the 14th, 15th, 16th of May. CSA advocates had an unprecedented opportunity to share experience and to refine their key messages.

URGENCI and its members believe it is high time to raise the voices of CSA. In the run up to the European elections, candidates should listen carefully to the voices of this grassroots movements. The specificity of CSA is that it is a concrete step towards a new social contract between producers and the societies they feedexplains Mathias von Mirbach, a CSA farmer from Germany. CSA is one of the most effective tools to help sustainable family farmers and conscious consumers regain control of local and territorial food systems.The CSA model is highly efficient when it comes to fighting food waste, preserving cultivated agro-biodiversity and consolidating local economies and employment. The nutrition provided by fresh, local agroecologically grown fruit and vegetables is now recognised as essential in fighting Non Communicable Disesases (NCDs) such as diabetes, obesity and heart problems and cancer. CSA initiatives therefore make a direct contribution to improving the health of European citizens. Its social and environmental contributions should be more clearly recognised. Direct payments and other measures of direct support should be directed towards producers who sell locally through CSA and other direct schemes.

These voices join the vibrant call for a Common Food Policy: there is a urgent need to repair the lack of coherence between policies implemented by the different DGs of the European Commission. We need to connect agriculture with health and nutrition, social inclusion and the environment. It is vital for thousands of CSA farms across Europe to ensure that agroecology and sustainability are promoted as overarching principles, and are prioritised over industrial agriculture, competition and corporate profits. “As part of the Nyeleni Europe Movement for Food Sovereignty, we in URGENCI are convinced that it is equally essential to ensure small-scale agroecological producers are at the core of this radical change towards a Common Food Policy, and ensure European citizens have access to healthy, nutritious food”, stresses Isabel Alvarez, Vice-President of URGENCI.

Now is the time for radical change. A change that is already well under way in the CSA. movement.

Contact: Jocelyn Parot, +33 6 84 68 52 82, jocelyn.parot@urgenci.net, www.urgenci.net

1Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a direct partnership between people and one or severalproducer(s), whereby the risks, responsibilities and rewards of farming are shared, through a long-term, binding agreement.

More farmers, better food: Nyéléni ECA releases CAP publication
More farmers better food CAP

Sustainable small farmers should be put at the core of EU agricultural policy, according to a new paper by the Nyeleni Europe and Central Asia Platform for Food Sovereignty [1]. The strongly documented publication comes ahead of a key vote in the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee in early April, and represents the position of a pan-European coalition of farmers, peasants, pastoralists, fisherfolk, Indigenous Peoples and environmental organizations in regards to the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The report highlights the alarming situation in rural areas and in the food system in the EU: Between 2005 and 2016, the number of farm holdings under 50 hectares fell by 29.4%. Over 4 million holdings disappeared in just 10 years. Increased numbers of seasonal, and often migrant workers suffer appalling working and living conditions. Pollution linked to agrochemicals continues to have a negative impact on public health – chemical residues are found in food, nitrate and phosphorus run-off pollutes water and soil. High levels of antibiotic use in animal farming leads to antimicrobial resistance. Around 88 million tons of food waste is generated per year, as a result of the industrial food chain. CAP has made the EU extremely dependent on cheap imports from regions with far lower environmental and social standards.

Stanka Becheva, food sovereignty campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: “With the world facing multiple environmental and social crises, many of which are directly linked to how we feed ourselves, EU politicians need to listen to small-scale sustainable farmers who can help fix the climate crisis and the breakdown of the natural world. The food systems they create provide healthy, affordable, and local food for consumers, respects nature and climate, and create safe and dignified employment.”

Laying out the part of the report focused on what is needed from the CAP for this transition to be successful, Genevieve Savigny, farmer and representative of the European Coordination Via Campesina [2], says “the CAP must provide small-scale sustainable producers with the adequate political, economic and social support they need. This implies fair prices, setting a capping for direct payments and a redistribution of aid. Currently, less than 2% of CAP beneficiaries receive 30% of the total budget of direct payments. This must change. More money for rural development and a collective approach of projects where peasant agroecology is promoted must be put forth. And for our youth? Support to new farmers during the first years of their activity is essential.”

“This report also shows the environmental and social benefits of new, local partnerships between producers and consumers. It comes right in time to show that a new social contract between food producers and the societies they feed is highly awaited and urgently needed”, says Judith Hitchman from URGENCI, the international network of Community Supported Agriculture movements.

Download the report (in English) here.

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